How To Keep Music In Sync

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Photo by NOAA, Ocean Explorer

If you have multiple people in your household all wanting to access the same music but from different devices, it can be a hassle. Here is how I do this process, and some solutions to problems I have encountered.

My Complex Music

In our house we have lots of music. We also have three computers. My daughter uses iTunes to sync to her iPod Touch. my husband uses Windows media play to sync to his Windows phone. I use iTunes to sync to my iPod Touch, and Creative Zen Extras to sync our family Zen players.

My husband is the one who generally rips or downloads music, leaving it on his hard drive. I too may sometimes rip a cd, as well.

Find The Files

The first step is to locate where the programs you are using expect the files. Luckily, all of the programs I have seen for managing music allow you to change that directory.

If you are all using one computer, store the files outside the “user” directories, and point your programs to that directory. If you are using multiple computers, have one location on each computer, and point each program on that computer to that directory.

Sync The Files

This only applies to multiple computer situations. Use a program to equalize the directories between computers. I use Synchback, which is free, and does a good job of moving things around, allowing me to set filters and specify subdirectories if I choose. I run this automatically once a week to bring over new music.

Import Into Libraries

This is one place where Windows media player has an advantage…just point it at the directory, and you’re done. ITunes requires an import, and I use the iTLU program to bring the library up to date. Creative Zen has a built-in function, to it is easy there as well.

Problems I Have Seen

This process goes seamlessly, for the most part. Every now and then there are issues.

  • Funky file or directory names. Again, Windows wins out on this one. iTunes is far more picky. I find that directories or files with non-alpha characters in them get renamed upon importation to iTunes. I get around this problem by renaming the files or directories on both computers.
  • Duplicates. Sometimes with the bizarre file renamings, the sync process will create duplicates. I take care of the by running Easy Duplicate Finder on my directory, and then forcing the changes to my husband’s computer. It seems to work best this way since Windows doesn’t care about a library.
  • Download directories. Amazon downloads go into a special directory. While Media Player doesn’t care, iTunes moves the files on importing, and this can result in duplicates. I solve this by importing to iTunes, then deleting the files out of my husband’s Amazon directory. On the next sync it gets reapplied to his library.

We have managed to keep our large music library in sync using these methods for about a year. Automated through batch files and Windows Scheduler, I only have to think about checking for weirdness about once a month.

Do you have any ways that you keep music coordinated between devices? Share below.

Photo by NOAA, Ocean Explorer (I know this photo has nothing to do with the article but it was too cool to pass up)